An opinionated feline in Edmonton, Canada who lived with a retired cat behaviourist, Greyce provided behavioral advice to cats in need until her death in July 2014. Because her entries are useful even today, the blog remains posted.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cat Stops Pooping in Box

Dear Greyce,

I am 18 months old and live in a home that already has a cat (female) my age and a dog. I am happy and playful and love sitting on purrsons. Lately I've become skittish - for no apparent reason that anyone can discern. However I have stopped using the litter box as a place in which to poop.
Can you help me?

The Mystery Pooper

Dear M. P.

From your inquiry I gather you are female but the rest of the details of your live remain a mystery to me and my readers.

Usually when a cat goes off using the litter box for poop (rather than for pee) it can mean one of several things:

1) Something is disrupting your use of the litter box (like a dog who enjoys eating fecal hors d'oeuvres and can hardly wait for you to produce them or someone guarding your use of the box or a dominant cat who prevents you from going there).

2) Constipation or diarrhea (of which you note neither) than can lead to an association of pain in the box and a search for a less painful place in which to eliminate.

3) A sudden change in your litter box (cleanliness, location, type of litter being used, box type).

4) A developing distaste for the paw-feel of the litter used which finally built up to rejection of said box for the purposes of poop (a behaviour that requires a fair bit of digging).

5) An incompatibility between the way you use the box and its very nature - often found in cats (many but not all) who poop just beside the box.

Now dear, from the little you have shared I can hardly begin to guess what might be the culprit. So here is what I suggest.

Plan A

First I suggest you have a look at to of my previous entries:
Guess Why I Won't Use the Box? (12/22/09)
Tigress Poops Beside the Box (2011/02/09).

In both cases, I outline all manner of possible causes for your problem. Purrhaps one of those will ring a bell in your furry head and you will then know what to hone in on.

If not then we go to Plan B: a more detailed consultation with moi.

Plan B

Well before the plan, I need the information -  a lot more information.In the interests of expediting this case, I will let you know what I need from you if you choose this option:

Your name - since I would rather address you in polite terms by the moniker by which you are known.
Confirmation of your gender and sexual status (spayed, I assume).
Age when you came into this home - and the way in which you were introduced to the other pets. How long it took before you were fully integrated into the home.

Names, ages, sexual status, species, etc. of the other pets in the household. I assume the rest of the household members are adult humans but would appreciate confirmation of that (including gender). If there are teens or young adults in the house as well, please let me know.

How well you get along with each of the other pets and each of the other humans in the household..

A general idea of your daily routine - eating times, play times, etc.

Litter box information:
- kind of litter used (clumping, clay etc).
- scented or unscented.
- liner or not.
- kind of box - open or covered and SIZE.
- numbers of boxes in the house and where they are located..
- how often the boxes are cleaned and how they are cleaned
- where you are pooping now. How far that is from the current box(s). The nature of the surface you use.
- your stools - colour, size and shape (e.g., black, small round; dark brown small cigars; etc.).
- how often you poop (once daily, more? less?)
- how you use the box: do you hang over the edge? do a lot of scratching? only use the middle? etc.

Any changes to the household around the time you stopped pooping in the box. This includes changes to the box, changes to the room(s) in which the box is located and general household changes.

So my dear, do have a look at those entries. If they are not helpful then contact me again with the requested information and I will give your case top priority.